While talking as sometimes I do, I remembered when I learned it is true, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverb of Solomon.)
One morning after exiting the South Downy Street bus I began the long walk to Manual High School. When you are a teenager, if you are honest; your living is fraught with ridiculous happenings.
Today was a special kind of silly; not because I was tardy, and I was. But because I had worn my Chicago Pilgrim heels. I walk-tottered down the street upon a 3-inch square, thick heels. Some designer’s funky fashion contribution, saluting the fore-fathers.
It was while crossing the second street that my shoes had their run-way moment. I quickened my step because I saw the northbound traffic converging just before the traffic light was to change.
Suddenly, I pitched forward sprawling and sliding into the street. My purse, school books, and notebooks jumped wildly into the air; then rained down about me.
I never knew his name and never saw him again after that day. He was just some guy who had passed me by as I tottered towards the school. He was apparently late for class as well! But he saw or heard my predicament. It was he that suddenly became my knight in shiny amour.
Rushing back to me, he helped me to stand and cross to the opposite curb. Then he gathered my books, notebook papers, and my purse. Next, he performed his most daring rescue. For there in the middle of the street, standing tall and straight were my Pilgrim shoes! Still upright with laces nicely tied. It seemed they waited for a foot to be re-inserted, or perhaps to lift aristocratic feet and scroll across the street on their own.
Defying the converging traffic, which apparently had no regard for my pompous Pilgrim friends, he ran back into the street. Snatched my heels from their haughty stance and dashed safely back to the curb.
I was quite simply stunned, shocked, and stammering. Trying to reclaim my femininity and my pride. To his repeated inquiry, “are you alright!” I smiled in what I hoped was a humorous and caviler way and replied. “Yes, yes, I’m, I’m just fine. It was nothing. Thank you very much.”
With my assurance, he resumed his trot towards the school. I slowly meandered behind him. Feeling every scrap and bruising from my fall. My shoes dangling from one of my hands. When you have to walk another 4 to 5 blocks to the school, the aching removes all vestiges of showmanship. I did not care who saw me carrying those shoes. As long as I didn’t have to wear them again.
I imagine he retold the tale to his friends at school and his family at home that evening. His Mom and Grandmother would be, oh so proud of him. As I watch his diminishing figure trotting down the street, I was happy to give him space to laugh at what he had witnessed. Because every halting step to the school I laughed, giggled, and horse-snorted myself.
I carried those shoes from class to class that day. I was still carrying them when I caught the bus back home that afternoon. And I was relieved and happy to retire them permanently to the shadows of my closet at home. I can’t speak for King Solomon, but my Mama didn’t raise no fool.